Fairburn Ings is definitely at its best when the suns shining! We’ve had ample sightings of ice creams, shorts, sandals, sun hats, shades... and if that’s not enough to prove that the May sunshine has joined us then maybe this weeks wildlife sightings will! Red campion is definitely in full bloom and there’s an impressive patch of greater stitchwort still blossoming just before the kissing gate by Bob Dickens hide. Bluebells are sadly starting to go over now but are quickly being replaced with loads of fresh buttercups and daisies. One new addition I noticed the other day on Village Bay field is doves-foot cranes bill, burrowed in amongst the long grass. These look very similar to herb robert but without the purple stem, and windy nature. They prefer to grow in grassy fields rather than hedgerows and can been seen until September generally so keep your eyes peeled!
Doves-foot cranes bill - Aphotoflora
We’ve had an exciting sighting this weekend over Main Bay of a Slavonian grebe! These look very much like black-necked grebes with their golden ear tufts and trill calls, you can tell them apart by the Slavonian grebe’s long burned-orange neck. They are usually found breeding in Scotland so this one is probably using us as a stop off before travelling further upwards. Even so get on to Main Bay to get a glimpse of this grebe! Speaking of grebe’s I noticed some great-crested grebe chicks over at Charlie’s hide on Friday. After watching the parents attentively looking after the nest for the past few weeks its very rewarding to see some chicks successfully hatched and bobbing happily on their parents back!
Slavonian grebe – Chris Gomersall (RSPB-Images)
Another great find this week includes a pair of brown argus butterflies on the river bank trail near big hole. There has been some debate amongst some of our butterfly experts of whether a new sub-species of brown argus exists which feeds on germander. It’s thought that the ones seen at Fairburn could possibly be one of these new sub-species! Exciting times! Commas, speckled wood, small copper and meadow brown are just some of the butterflies we’ve had this weekend alongside the ever numerous orange-tips and green-veined whites! Damselfly and dragonfly numbers are steadily growing. It’s such a great time of year for mini-beast safaris and bug hunts as there is just so much out there to find!
Brown argus – Richard Boon
We’ve had quite an exciting morning with Slavonian grebes and red kites. We’ve also had a dog otter spotted on the duck feeding platform near main bay. Otters are not that regularly seen here at Fairburn so they’re clearly making the most of the good stock of fish we have at the moment! It is worth noting the amount of fish that can still be seen from the bridge on cut lane near Charlie’s hide. There were two carps at Charlie’s hide that I ended up watching for quite a while the other day, you could quite clearly see the find over the top of the water and the circular ripples in the water. Every now and again a little owl will crop up in our sightings book and I’m quite annoyed I keep missing to see it! Newton Farm is the area to see this little owl so keep an eye out, it may have some chicks.
Dog otter – Chris Gomersall (RSPB-images)